Are they worth it? Are they comparable or better than writing conferences such as CapClave, which includes small workshops in addition to panel discussions with writers and editors?
And what to choose? A blogger I follow, Luke Tarzian, recently went on a writing cruise. There’s, of course, Clarion West and Odyssey. This Wired article on the Strangely Competitive World of Sci-Fi Writing Workshops was eye opening too.
Then there is Writers of the Future, if you place in the contest. I admit I am skeptical about this contest given L. Ron Hubbard’s history. Based on what I’ve seen online, the contest and retreat appear to be legit. Also, big names in the speculative fiction realm attend every year and teach during the retreat, but it’s hard to overlook the Scientology connections as reported here and elsewhere.
Nevertheless, I’ve submitted a story every quarter for the last year. One of my stories got through the first round of judging recently, and I admit I am intrigued by the possibility of spending a week learning the craft. Since I’ve continued to submit a story every quarter, it may still happen eventually, though my conscience is weighing heavily on me these days.
The thing about Writers of the Future is it’s free. Otherwise, I don’t know if I can justify both paying for the retreat and taking the time off from work. One seems manageable. Both seems burdensome.
Maybe it’s an investment I need to make to get better. A couple beta readers have mentioned I’ve noticeably improved since starting out, which was a great ego boost. But I don’t want to plateau. I know I’m far from a good writer, and I want to continue to improve. I’m thinking it’ll be an investment to make when one of the two constraints are lifted, i.e. the retreat is free or I’m retired.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve attended a writers retreat, which one, and what you thought of it.
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